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The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa

06/10/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/10/2021 10:57

President Ramaphosa responds to questions for oral reply in the National Council Of Provinces

QUESTION
Mr A J Nyambi (Mpumalanga: ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
  1. Whether the Government has undertaken an audit regarding public infrastructure that was damaged, vandalised and/or stolen during the lockdown period; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what is the estimated value of the damage caused to such infrastructure during this period;
  1. whether the Government has put any plans in place to repair and/or replace such infrastructure; if not, why not; if so,
  • what plans and
  • what are the further relevant details;
  1. (a) what are the worst affected infrastructure and (b) in which provinces;
  1. whether the Government will (a) undertake a comprehensive audit of damage caused to public infrastructure during the lockdown period and (b) develop a plan for repairing or replacing such infrastructure; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?

REPLY:
Honourable Members, Public infrastructure is vital to the lives and livelihoods of South Africans and to the achievement of our developmental goals. Damage to public infrastructure, whether through vandalism or theft, amount to nothing less than acts of sabotage against the aspirations of the South African people. Unfortunately, there was a significant increase in such criminal acts during the lockdown period, predominantly in the areas of commuter rail and basic education. The responsibility for public infrastructure development, maintenance and repair lies with various levels of government - at national level, national departments are responsible; at provincial level, provincial government bears responsibility and at local level, municipalities have direct responsibility of looking after public infrastructure. As in the normal course of events, each of these is responsible for conducting an assessment of any damage caused and taking steps to replace or restore infrastructure. It is therefore not possible to provide an overall estimate of the value of the damage caused over this period. With respect to commuter rail, Metrorail experienced an alarming increase in cases of infrastructure theft and vandalism, ranging from overhead electrical lines, electrical substations, train stations and depot buildings. This vandalism took place in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu. These acts have a huge impact on the mobility of commuters, who depend on the affordable Metrorail services to access economic opportunities in our major urban centres. Metrorail has started to gradually return commuter services as it works to repair and replace critical infrastructure. This includes projects to rehabilitate railway tracks, reinstate electricity infrastructure, walling off rail lines, building and repairing pedestrian bridges, station improvements and automated signalling infrastructure. This work is hampered by illegal settlements that have been built on the tracks and inside the rail reserve, and PRASA is working with municipalities to address this problem. A number of commuter rail corridors have been prioritised in Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and several mainline passenger services for the restoration of infrastructure and the return to service. With respect to education, the Department of Basic Education reports that over 1,700 schools across the country were vandalised or had equipment stolen since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Eastern Cape were the worse affected provinces. Responsibility for the maintenance and repair of these schools is the responsibility of the Provincial Departments of Education. Reports from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure also indicate damage to public infrastructure in Kimberley, Gqeberha and Hout Bay. These include the theft of cables at a bulk water pump station in Gqeberha, theft of borehole pumps at two police stations, and damage caused through vandalism at SAPS offices in King William's Town. We are working to intensify the efforts of law enforcement agencies, working alongside entities like PRASA, to uncover illicit cable trading syndicates and scrap metal dealers in possession of stolen material. The success of these efforts depends on a partnership with communities, as we all have a responsibility to safeguard and care for public infrastructure. I thank you.
QUESTION 2. Ms C Labuschagne (Western Cape: DA) to ask the President of the Republic: Whether his announcement during the 2021 State-of-the-Nation-Address of a Climate Advisory Council and his participation in the Virtual Leaders' Summit on Climate Change (details furnished) indicates that he considers climate change as his priority and by extension the priority of his entire Cabinet and Government; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
REPLY: Honourable Members, Tackling climate change is a national priority. This requires not only that we meet our international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also that we implement adaptation measures to protect individuals, communities and our economy from the effects of climate change. If we do not act now, and if we do not act together as a global community, we will be increasingly vulnerable to adverse weather conditions, food insecurity, water scarcity, displacement of populations and biodiversity loss. At the same time, the country's response to climate change needs to be well managed to ensure that it does not negatively impact on the economy or exacerbate inequality, poverty and unemployment. We must acknowledge that the transition to a low emissions economy and climate resilient society offers opportunities for new development, investment and job creation. It is therefore important that we understand both the opportunties and the risks associated with a climate transition. It is for this reason that we established the Presidential Climate Commission to identify a path towards a low emissions economy and climate resilient society that is just, promotes inclusive development and job creation, and leaves no one behind. The Commission itself is constituted by members from various sectors of society, including business, labour, civil society, youth, research institutes and government. This signifies that we recognise the multidimensional nature of climate change and a just transition. Cabinet Ministers, particularly those from the economic cluster, actively participate in the Commission's work to ensure that there is political oversight. As part of our response to climate change, public consultations have been underway on the draft updated Nationally Determined Contribution. This outlines the country's targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Once finalised, the updated Nationally Determined Contribution will be submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ahead of the Climate Change Summit - known as COP 26 - in Glasgow in November. South Africa is currently the coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, which met earlier this week. This Committee is a vital part of Africa's ambitious coordinated response to climate change and provides guidance on Africa's common position on climate change in international fora. This weekend, I will be participating in deliberations on climate change at the G7 meeting in the United Kingdom, where I will be presenting the positions of our country and the continent on this critical issue. I thank you.
QUESTION 3. Mr M I Rayi (Eastern Cape: ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
  1. How much funding and financing commitments have been made by the (a)
Government and (b) private sector to execute the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan in respect of the damage caused by Covid-19;
  1. whether the Government has made any progress in implementing the priority areas articulated in such Plan; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

REPLY: Honourable Members, The Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is a necessary response to the severe economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Plan aims to ensure a swift and lasting economic recovery, with measures to limit the immediate impact of the pandemic on vulnerable workers and households and to revive economic growth in the short and medium term. Significant progress has been made since the announcement of the plan less than eight months ago. The Infrastructure Fund has been established, and its investment committee has been constituted. A total of R18 billion has been allocated to the Infrastructure Fund over the next three years for blended finance arrangements that will leverage private sector funding. To achieve greater energy security, a total of 1,200 MW of new generation capacity has now been connected to the grid from projects approved through Bid Window 4 of the Renewable Energy IPP Programme. A request for proposals has been issued for 2,600 MW of power from wind and solar PV projects through Bid Window 5. Eleven preferred bidders have been approved as part of the emergency power procurement programme, which will together deliver nearly 2,000 MW of power to the grid over the next 18 months. As I announced earlier this afternoon, Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act will soon be amended to increase the licensing threshold for embedded generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW. The Presidential Employment Stimulus has supported close to 700,000 opportunities across a range of programmes, through the creation of new work opportunities, the protection of existing jobs in vulnerable sectors, and support for livelihoods. Four sector master plans are currently in implementation, in the automotive, sugar, poultry, and clothing, textiles, footwear and leather sectors. This approach, which relies on close collaboration with stakeholders to develop a tailored action plan for high-growth sectors, is already demonstrating results. According to data released by the South African Revenue Service, South Africa experienced a cumulative trade surplus of close to R150 billion for the first four months of this year. This reflects a massive increase in our exports to the rest of the world, driven largely by the unique strategic value of our mineral resources. Funding for the measures contained in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is included in the budgets of all national departments for their areas of responsibility, ensuring that the plan is mainstreamed in the work of government. Through the effective implementation of this plan, as well as the structural reforms that form part of Operation Vulindlela, we are reviving our economy and placing South Africa on a new growth trajectory. The success of the Recovery Plan is based on a strong partnership with business, labour and other social partners, as a whole-of-society effort to promote our economic recovery. I thank you.
QUESTION 4. Ms B T Mathevula (Limpopo: EFF) to ask the President of the Republic:
  1. What reasons were given by the Independent Electoral Commission for appointing the panel that is led by the former Deputy Chief Justice (name furnished) only after the date of the local government elections was proclaimed;
  1. whether he will postpone the elections if the panel recommends that the elections will not be free and fair if conducted in this climate; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

REPLY: Honourable Members, On 22 April 2021, I announced 27 October 2021 as the date on which the local government elections will be held. The announcement does not constitute a proclamation as contemplated in the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act. The proclamation will be issued by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. For the first time since its establishment, the Independent Electoral Commission is faced with the prospect of conducting elections in the midst of a global pandemic. Concerns have been expressed by some political parties represented on the party liaison committee that the forthcoming general elections may not be free and fair given the impact of the COVID-19 and the measures taken to curb the continued spread of the pandemic. Cognisant of its obligation to ensure that the elections are free and fair, the IEC has commissioned Justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead the Inquiry into Ensuring Free and Fair Local Government Elections During COVID-19. The inquiry is expected to do three things - firstly, enquire into the conditions for free and fair elections; secondly, come up with findings following the enquiry; and thirdly, issue a report in which recommendations are set out concerning the likelihood that the IEC would be able to ensure that the forthcoming government elections will be free and fair. It has also been asked to indicate additional measures that the IEC may be required to implement in order to realise free and fair elections within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Any possible postponement of elections is a matter on which the IEC will have to make a determination in terms of the provisions of the Constitution and applicable legal prescripts. The Moseneke Inquiry is about enquiring into and providing a report on the conditions for free and fair elections so as to enable the IEC to fully consider the matter. As there is no determination of a postponement at this stage, no other date has been considered as election date other than 27 October 2021. I thank you.
QUESTION 5. Ms S Shaikh (Limpopo: ANC) to ask the President of the Republic: Whether, with reference to the phenomenal increase in the destabilisation of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique and sporadic upsurge of violent conflicts in other parts of Africa (details furnished), the Government has any plans to re-invigorate the Southern African Development Community (details furnished); if not, why not; if so, (a) what plans and (b) what are the further relevant details?
REPLY: Honourable Members, South Africa is working within the established systems of the Southern African Development Community to address the destabilisation of the Cabo Delgado province and to establish political stability in Mozambique. The SADC Double Troika Technical Assessment Mission, which had been deployed to the Cabo Delgado province in April 2021, proposed, amongst others, the deployment of the SADC Standby Force in support of the Mozambican Armed Defence Force to combat the threat of terrorism and acts of violent extremism. An Extraordinary SADC Organ Troika Summit that took place on 27 May 2021 in Maputo agreed to convene an Extraordinary SADC Summit on 23 June 2021 to reach an agreement on the appropriate regional response in support of Mozambique. The Summit noted progress towards the establishment and operationalisation of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre, which will enhance regional capabilities in risk and disaster management. The Republic of Mozambique has committed to host the centre. The SADC Organ Troika, in keeping with its principle of peaceful resolution, remains seized with finding a lasting solution to the conflict to ensure that Mozambique is stable, peaceful and able to develop its economy. I thank you.
QUESTION 6. Ms D C Christians (Northern Cape: DA) to ask the President of the Republic: Whether, considering that in his State-of-the-Nation-Address in June 2019 he committed to strategies that would end gender-based violence and femicide (details furnished), the Presidency has any plans to (a) further strengthen the fight against the said scourge and (b) provide access to justice for the victims and survivors; if not, why not; if so, (i) what plans and (ii) what are the further relevant details in each case?
REPLY: Honourable Members, Following the State of the Nation Address in June 2019, the Emergency Response Action Plan was implemented to further strengthen the fight against gender-based violence and femicide and provide justice for the victims and survivors. This was a short-term plan implemented over six months through partnerships between civil society networks, government, development partners and academic institutions. The National Strategic Plan on GBVF was approved by Cabinet in March 2020. It builds onto the Emergency Response Action Plan, and focuses on improved accountability, responsiveness to the needs of survivors, addressing impunity and driving a comprehensive prevention agenda. We are beginning to see positive results through various joint interventions. In February 2021, we launched the private sector GBVF Response Fund where an initial amount of R128 million was pledged. Legislative reform has been a critical component of the National Strategic Plan. Last week, the National Assembly passed three bills:
  • the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill,
  • Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, and
  • Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill.
These three Bills are now on their way to the NCOP. I would encourage the NCOP to carefully consider these three important Bills with a sense of urgency, within the legislative mandate of the NCOP. We have introduced several innovative initiatives to facilitate access to support and justice. This includes an SMS notification system for applications for domestic violence protection orders that was launched at all district courts in January 2021. The Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, once passed, will make it possible for complainants to apply for protection orders online. Thirty-two regional courts are ready for designation as Sexual Offences Courts. There are plans for the establishment of six additional Thuthuzela Care Centres. As at March 2021, all police stations had the necessary sexual assault DNA kits to assist victims and survivors. The implementation of NSP on GBVF through the district development model is being embedded in provincial and local government structures. All provinces have either finalised or are developing provincial plans. The process of localisation is further bolstered by the establishment of rapid response structures at district and local municipality levels across the country. As we move into the second year of the National Strategic Plan, we are focused on strengthening accountability at all levels of government and society. We are developing a comprehensive national GBVF prevention strategy, including evidence-based social and behaviour change programmes. If we are committed to working together as a country - as government, communities, civil society, organised labour, business, academia, traditional leaders and the faith community - we will succeed in ending violence against women in South Africa. I thank you.